My Tea Addiction

TeaI think it’s safe to say that I am slightly addicted to tea.

Every day I drink several super sized mugs. And I do mean super sized. My nieces called them “Aunt alinna’a BIG tea”.

The problem with a tea addiction is that one tends to buy a lot of tea.

And that tea soon takes over the cupboard.

I have Christmas teas from two years ago.

Three kinds of Chai teas from one of Dagmar’s past obsessions.

Green tea, black tea, white tea, and herbal tea.

A little bit of this.

Three bags left of that.

Enough already.

I have decided that from now till Christmas I will drink up the tea in my stash and clean it out. Even if they aren’t my favorites.

I will drink Chai tea.

I will drink sugar plum fairy tea.

I will drink the little bit of this and the little bit of that in my tea cupboard.

And I will like it.

Then – I will start restocking with all my favorites. 🙂

The kettle’s boiling – anyone want a cup of tea to help me out?

The Lord Will Provide – Christmas Costumes

Can you believe it’s November already? The countdown to Christmas has begun!

First on my priority list – costumes for this year’s Christmas program. Dagmar made all the costumes for me last year – but this year she’s been working double shifts at the hospital. When she is around she is either sleeping – or should be!

Looks like my it will be my sewing machine that is humming!

This year’s program takes place in 1910. Yep. A period piece.
Boys

Boys in knickers with argyle socks and sweaters. Girls in jumpers and aprons with big hair ribbons.

Plus 4 piglets, a horse and a traveling salesman.

The lesson taught in this year’s program is that God always provides. And He’s proving it to be true even now.

We’ve been combing the thrift stores for pieces that could be altered – like a set of dark green curtains that became a jumper or a plaid ladies jumper that yielded enough material for a skirt.
Shoes
We’ve found pairs of black shoes – even some boots for the girls – all free.

Boys dress pants in the right sizes – ready to be cut off below the knee and elastic added to make knickers.

Sweaters, socks, blouses, flannel shirts.

We’ve even found pig snouts for our piglets.
Girls
I have pattern pieces in my dining room, stacks of material on my floor and costumes spread out over the futon in the library.

But it’s coming together!

Bit by bit. Piece by piece.

There are several important items that I’m still praying for –  including the horse!

But – to borrow a line from this year’s script – “Remember what Grandpa says, God always provides!”

I can’t wait to see how!

Stinky Situation

The outrageous price of gas has caused us to drastically rethink every car trip. We’ve put off trips – combined trips – and skipped things all together.

One area that we have been putting off was bringing in the recycling.

Since we live out in the country – there are no plastic recycling buckets to set out for the garbage truck every week .  We wait till we have a bunch and then take them into town ourselves.

But now, due to budget restraints, several of our closest small towns no longer have the large community recycling bins.

Except for one. Although it’s only about 20 minutes away, we have no reason to go there, except to recycle.

So the pile of cans and jars kept growing until Jan decided that with a little detour from our regular route – we could go right through that small town on our way home from church, thus eliminating a separate trip.

It seemed like a good idea at the time – and actually worked pretty well during the winter months.

But then spring arrived. One beautifully bright Sunday morning Jan and the boys loaded the recycles in the car and we left for church. I didn’t notice anything peculiar on the way there – just some really quiet kids.

But as soon as we got in the car after church and shut the door, an almost overpowering stench hit me.

It smelled like something dead was in the van with us. Like maybe a mouse had crawled into one of the cans and died. Then – as the car sat in the heat of the sun for the 3 hours we were in church – it ripened.

I quickly rolled my window down and hung my head out – feeling sorry for the poor kids in the back seat of the van whose eyes were watering and didn’t have a window.

The 2o minute drive to the recycling bins took forever as I rode with my head out the window like a dog – just lapping in the fresh air.

I really wonder what people thought as they passed us?

Jan kept looking at me with a sheepish grin and saying, “I guess I’m in the dog house this time.”

Yep.

Let’s just say that they are sometimes you can take thrifty just a little too far!

Mowzilla

You know the outrageous price of gas can cause people to do strange things.

Take my brother-in-law…

Tractor 1
He modified his IH 240 tractor with two Swisher off-set mowers. When you factor in the 60 inch belly mower already mounted on the tractor – he can now cut a swath 15 feet across – with one pass.
Tractor 2He named this invention “The Mozilla” and can now cut the lawn in two rounds – although if the garden was up – he would have mowed down half of it.

Tractor 3He’s not sure how many acres an hour it will cut, or how much gas it takes – but it sure causes the neighbors to slow down and gawk when he’s out mowing!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

SoapOkay – I’m  jumping on the band wagon.

While I’ve seen recipes for homemade laundry detergent all over cyber space for some time – I never quite got my act together to make some.

Until now.

Yes – this country gal finally found the right ingredients – had them all on hand at the same time – and made a batch of laundry soap.

Believe it or not – it was easy. And uber-cheap.

My friend Kimmer sent me this recipe. She got it from her friend Cindy – who found it at Thy Hand Hath Provided.

Homemade Laundry Soap
This recipe makes 5 gallons of concentrate which equals 10 gallons of ready-to-use laundry detergent. 

1 five gallon bucket (clean and with a tight fitting lid)
a long handled spoon
an empty (used) laundry detergent container (or juice or vinegar container, clean)
hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap Bar
1 cup washing soda (NOT baking soda)
1/2 cup borax

Grate the Fels Naptha laundry soap bar we used a cheese grater (Well, actually, it was Buddy who used the cheese grater. This was the most time-consuming part of the entire process making it the perfect job for an 11 year old boy. If you don’t have one – you could borrow mine- but he does eat a lot.)

Add the grated Fels Naptha to a medium sauce pan along with 4 cups of water.  Heat over medium high heat while stirring occasionally until the soap has melted completely. (The funny thing is – the grated soap looks like amazingly like grated cheese – causing some puzzled looks since we heated it up as we were making lunch!)

While it’s melting, fill your five gallon bucket half full with hot tap water. (At this point your house will be smelling very – well – soapy. Pedro commented that our house hasn’t smelled this clean since Matt got the air freshener for graduation!)

Once the bar soap has melted, add it to the bucket along with the washing soda and borax.  Stir it well until everything has dissolved.  Add hot tap water to fill the bucket and stir again.

Cover tightly with the lid and let sit overnight to thicken.  Stir well (it will gel and separate a bit).  You have just made concentrate.

When you’re ready to use it, stir the detergent well, then fill your empty detergent container half full with the concentrate.  Fill the rest of the container with water.

Shake before each use.  Use 1/4 cup per load for a front loading machine and 5/8 cup per load for a top loading machine.

 I must confess that I had trouble mixing the concentrate the next morning. It was pretty globby (is that a word?!) and I finally gave up on using a spoon and used my hands to squish the globs.
Finally I measured out enough to half- fill my empty laundry detergent container into a large container, added that much water and used my immersion blender to mix it up. Perfect!
Also – if you are needing a good bucket and lid – I would highly recommend using a 5 gallon bucket and a Gamma Seal Lid . These plastic lids fit tightly on the top of the bucket but easily screw on and off. I love them!
Happy washing!